Last week, I was hiking on a trail near my house that leads to a quarry. On the trail, I saw a father having a discussion with his daughter. She was tired and wanted to go home and was begging him to carry her bucket of rocks.
Evidently, they had been hiking for a while. She had been picking up rocks and twigs and dumping them into a little pink plastic bucket. Now, however, she wanted to go home. She was too tired to walk and carry the bucket. So, she was crying and asking her dad to carry the bucket for her. He told her, “No.” He could see how tired she was, but he could also see something she could not. He knew she needed someone to do something more than merely carry her bucket.
So, he knelt down, as if he was telling her a secret, and asked her to carry the bucket while he picked her up and carried her on his shoulders. She began to cry. She did not want to carry the bucket, but he lifted her anyway. He hoisted her with her bucket on his shoulders and started to walk away. As I watched them, I saw her rest the pink bucket of rocks and twigs on his head. It was a sight to see: A father and a daughter joined together in a labor of love.
Now, I know the analogy breaks down, but something like that is going on in our gospel reading. Jesus is calling all who are weary and heavy-laden to come and follow Him. Those who follow are given a yoke to bear. Yet, when they bear the yoke, they find themselves both carried and cared for, completely resting in this Lord and His love.
This call of Jesus should sound strange to our contemporary ears. In our world, leaders gather around them people who are successful and can contribute to their mission. Whether they are drafting players in sports or adding workers in a startup, smart leaders surround themselves with those who succeed. In fact, smart leaders keep their eyes out for the strong, the wise, those who are willing and able to make a positive contribution. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” we say.
Jesus, however, does the opposite. He says, “Give me the weakest link.” He constantly has His eye out, not for the strong, but the needy, the left behind, and the forgotten. He calls those who are weary and heavy-laden to come and follow Him.
Jesus says, “Give me the weakest link.”
If you work for a government which oppresses your people, and you collect far more money for taxes from your people than is necessary and then use the extra for yourself, well, guess what… Jesus wants you. If you live among the tombs, possessed by demons, hurting yourself with stones, and frightening others with cries, Jesus will walk among the dead just to speak with you. If for years you have tried to provide emotional support for your spouse and yet failed miserably, so much so that you are about to give up and walk away from the marriage, Jesus says, “Come closer. Listen. Can’t you hear me calling?” If you have questions about God that weigh on your mind and issues with the Church that smother your soul, Jesus says, “Wait, I’ve opened a door for you.”
A bruised reed, He will not break. A smoldering wick, He will not snuff out. So, for those who have tried and are tired, for those who have denied and now doubt, for those who once cared but now cannot, Jesus is here; calling… waiting… lifting… carrying… you.
So, for those who have tried and are tired, for those who have denied and now doubt, for those who once cared but now cannot, Jesus is here; calling… waiting… lifting… carrying… you.
There is much in this text to meditate on – the Father’s wisdom in revealing the Kingdom to children, a yoke that is pleasant, a burden that is light – but, perhaps in a world that is weary, this call of Jesus is enough for today.
Jesus did not come to be first. He came to be faithful, faithful to His Father’s mission for you.
Because of that, He gathers about Him all who are burdened or broken. The downtrodden and the debilitated, the meek and the mourning, the despised, and the suffering, these are the ones Jesus gathers. Why? Because He is not going to rely on human wisdom or strength. In humble obedience, He will do the will of His Father. Jesus did not come to win but to lose. He came to be beaten, to be broken, to be cast aside, and to die: For you. But then He will rise so you might know that no failure, no weakness, no sin, no suffering will ever separate you from your Father’s love. Your Savior has borne all sin, endured all suffering, that He might bring all God’s grace to all the weary of this world.
Today, Jesus invites us to be honest about our inadequacies, our ineptitude, our fears, and our failures. Bring them to Him and He will carry you. It is His labor of love.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Matthew 11:25-30.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Matthew 11:25-30.
Lectionary Podcast-The one and only Jeffrey Pulse of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Matthew 11:25-30.